Singers War: Origin

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Singers War: Origin
  • Book One of the Singers War Series
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Lost Battalion Publishing
  • Published: November 9. 2020

Singers War tells the story of the turning point in the war between Grandfather, the Creator of the Star Crystals, and the Singers. For more than 300 millennia the wrath of the Singers destroyed the civilizations of known space, and beyond. In a moment of fate, Brigadier General Tori Takahashi, captures the Singers’ psionic weapon of mass destruction – an Oni. And all it took was Tori’s insanity and Grandfather's intervention. Civilization finally has a chance to win.

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WE ARE…

McAlister Texas, Terran Union

4528 CE Day 327 03:52 PDL

Eve climbed out of the ground transport in front of a very old brick home, in a rundown section of town. The two-story raised floor frontier ranch house was nearly a thousand years old. It was maintained, clean and utterly un-lived in. The Stellar Travellers foundation was the owner. The home was the address of record for the foundation.

This is my ancestral home.” Eve opened the gate by the street and walked up the red brick sidewalk to a screen door. She stopped and stared. “Simple and effective.” The door creaked as the very old spring was stretched when it was opened. The throwback concept to keep out the bugs, maybe the oldest door in Texas, was holding Eve’s attention when the front door opened. A man was standing there wearing cowboy boots, jeans, a decorated belt with a large silver buckle, stitched shirt, and a cowboy hat. She just stared at the oddly attired man standing in the door of an ancient building.

“Howdy Ma’am, how can I help you?” He asked with a distinctive accent.

“I am Eve McAlister. Saburo Takahashi should have notified you I was coming,” Eve smiled as she replied.

“Yes Ma’am, Ambassador McAlister. I am Robert McAlister; it seems we are cousins several times removed. Come on in and we can have some lunch while we chat.” He stepped aside to allow Eve to join him in the foyer, closing the door behind her. “The dining room is to the right, just down the hall.”

Eve strolled to a beautifully ornate dining room. The table was set for two, but had food for twelve, with a great deal of variety. “I was not sure what you would like, so I laid on a Texas style spread. Please join me.

We’ll donate the leftovers to the shelter up the street.” As they took their seats he continued. “How is it out on the… Sword Worlds, is that what it’s called?”

“We do well enough. Space out there is pretty dangerous, but we have nine thriving colonies and a reasonable fleet and army.” Eve went for the fruit salad and added a side of salsa. Robert’s eyebrows shot up as he waited for her to try that combination. She added two deviled eggs, and a slice of carrot cake to her plate.

Robert chose short ribs and potato salad. When they were both ready to start their meal, Robert spoke up, “Let me say grace for us. Lord, thank you for the reuniting of family, this shared meal, and a new beginning. Amen.”

Eve cocked her head to the side while considering this odd custom. Robert picked up the look, “There is an old family tale. After the end of the last World War, when we encountered the Imperium, the family split on whether to go out to the stars to face them or seek a way to make peace.

Your ancestors chose to go to the stars. My ancestors chose the way of peace. We have been ministers of the Gospel for the last thousand years. Our family, pastors nearly nine hundred thousand church members. To stick with the ministry for nearly a millennium you must truly believe. Are there any faithful out on the fringe?”

“Not many. The first four decades we were doing our best to survive. Culture changed as a result and it was hard to, loot and plunder, and preach the Gospel. So very few of the survivors held to the faith.” Eve watched Robert as he reflected on the answer. She dipped the cantaloupe in the salsa and took a bite. “Hmm, that is good.” Robert smiled at this strange cousin.

Governor’s Manor, Texas, Sol

4528 CE Day 327 09:52 PDL

Eve was greeted by three people as she entered the lobby of the Governor’s Manor. “Ambassador McAlister, the Governor is expecting you for cocktails and dinner in the residence. But first the Attorney General would like a moment of your time.”

“Certainly,” she handed the shopping bag, full of Armadillo Fire Salsa, to one of the people meeting her. “Sorry, I was visiting family and I just could not get enough salsa.” The aide looked down and worked to ignore the slight of being relegated to a grocery clerk.

The other two aides led her to a conference room near the lobby. Attorney General Killian Tergal was seated at the table and stood as Eve entered the room. “Welcome Ambassador, thank you for giving me a moment of your time. I would like to inform you that Texas is granting recognition of the Sword Worlds. And we would like to send a delegation to your embassy later this month.”

“Won’t that cause trouble with Terran Union Council?” Eve asked giving him a quizzical look.

“Probably, but we specialize at causing trouble for the world government… it’s sort of a Texas thing.”

“Let me consider it. I will give your delegation my answer when they stop by. I understand that the right to carry arms is galaxy wide for Texas citizens. The Sword Worlds have the same policy. Sorry for the trouble when I first arrived.” Eve apologized in order to build trust.

“As I said, Ambassador, it is a Texas tradition to cause trouble.” Eve decided she liked Killian Tergal.

An aide entered the conference room, “Ambassador McAlister and Attorney General Tergal, the Governor is ready for you.” Drinks and dinner were rather banal but pleasant. Eve found out that she liked tequila, during the evening. The next morning, she found out tequila didn’t like her.

Smashdown Bar, Antigua, Sol

4528 CE Day 332 05:20 PDL

Wilson Gorean wandered into one of his favorite haunts. “Big Me’mee, set up a Smashdown special. I need all the rocket fuel you can pour.” Wilson walked up to the bar and waited on his first drink, a shot of bourbon with a beer chaser. “Is Onre still in town?”

“Yep, that was one serious black eye that you landed on him. He is in the back. I will send the rest of your special along if I don’t hear shouting,” Big Me’mee said as he waved Wilson by the guards watching the office door.

Wilson carried his beer as he headed into the back offices of Onre Sandri. It was a good Mexican brew and he wasn’t leaving it behind. The two heavy steel doors opened for him one at a time. A bit of a delay happened between the outside door closing and the inside door opening. Wilson was sure that Onre Sandri scanned him before letting him into his offices. As the inside door opened, he heard, “Wilson come on in... I have a sucker punch waiting for you.”

“I doubt you can top the sucker punch that has already landed… I am about to make you an even wealthier man Onre.” Gorean took a seat without even asking. “I need some very rare information.” Wilson’s next round of drinks arrived – vodka with a brandy chaser. “I need the final expedition reports from the Lost Stars, also, any intelligence reports from the coreward frontier.”

“Did you suddenly decide to become a travel agent? Why would you need all that?” Onre Sandri watched Wilson as he sipped his brandy chaser. Wilson simply smiled at him.

“You know that is really expensive information, and it will take a while to get. I take it you want the data delivered through a cut-out network?”

“Yes, make sure that anyone tracing it lands on a dead end.” Wilson watched Big Me’mee bring in his final round, rum, and a Hopi-Beer. Wilson toasted Onre’s good health.

“I will need a million credits deposit and cost plus 40% after that.” Onre expected Wilson to choke on the Hopi-Beer when he quoted the outrageous number.

“Sounds about right, can you get it all in the next eighteen months?” Gorean settled in to watch Onre squirm.

Mayor’s Office, Tranquility Station, Luna

4528 CE Day 333 22:37 PDL

Saburo Takahashi was seated in an uncomfortable chair waiting to meet the Mayor. A slightly built Terran Union Admiral walked into the waiting area. “Esquire Takahashi I am Vice Admiral Wang Jangxia. Your meeting with the Mayor has been cancelled. You will meet with me instead.

Tranquility Station is a military instillation. We leave it under civilian government as an accommodation for the civilians and employees here. Come with me please.”

As Saburo gathered his tablet and briefcase, Admiral Wang turned cleanly on her heal and went back through the door. Saburo was surprised to find six armed Marines flanking the Admiral. “We are heading to my transport. I have some questions for you.” It was clear that Admiral Wang was not offering up a request. Saburo followed behind the Admiral as she led the way to a landing bay with a military heavy combat pinnace docked in it. Admiral Wang passed through the aft of the troop transport section of the pinnace and led Esquire Takahashi to a sitting area.

“Saburo, please call me Jangxia. I understand you represent Ambassador McAlister. She is a Marine under Terran Union Law and I would like a face to face meeting with her. The information she provided on the state of the Terran Confederation expeditionary forces from the 5th Fleet is not readable by us. As I am responsible for the state of 5th Fleet readiness, even if the forces are seven centuries out of contact, Marine Eve McAlister needs to report for a complete debrief. Sorry for the abruptness but I have several other meetings today.”

“Jangxia, why did you cancel my meeting?” Takahashi wanted to consider the Admiral’s hidden motives and was stalling for time so he could assess them.

“The Foreign Ministry has not yet decided the status of the Sword Worlds, although I hear that Texas is offering recognition. We will address Ambassador McAlister’s requests at that time.” Jangxia waited on Takahashi to pick his next evasion.

“I will bring your request to Ambassador McAlister,” Takahashi replied. With that, Admiral Wang stood, thanked Saburo Takahashi for his time, promptly dismissing the lawyer, and directing him out of the shuttle.

Sword Worlds Embassy, Tranquility Station

4528 CE Day 334 02:40 PDL

After the unfruitful attempt to talk to the Mayor, Saburo Takahashi found himself waiting in the reception area of the Sword Worlds Embassy, being watched by a hovering five-hundred-kilogram combat droid. Not a promising day so far. After several hours, the doors to the elevator opened and Eve McAlister entered the Embassy. “Takahashi- san… am I late for our meeting?”

“No, I am unfortunately early. I had my meeting with the Mayor preempted by a Vice Admiral, Wang Jangxia. Have you met her?” Saburo asked as he stood and moved to meet Ambassador McAlister.

“I believe she was the flag officer that ordered me to report to her office when I first arrived.” Eve extended her hand in greeting. Saburo took it and bowed slightly as he shook it in both of his hands.

Eve asked, smiling at Saburo, “Are you going to visit your daughter while you’re here?”

“Yes, thank you. I plan to, once we conclude our meeting. Admiral Wang informed me that Texas has offered to recognize the Sword Worlds. Seems you are leveraging your position.” Saburo followed beside Eve as she led them to the terrace.

“Are you hungry, I brought some salsa and tequila back from Texas,” she asked as she found a seat.

“You seem to have had fun. I assume the meeting with Robert McAllister was productive.” Saburo seated himself next to the railing overlooking the gardens below.

“I was not expecting him to be a …Pastor, is it? It seems that I have encountered several people that have faith, something rarely practiced at home. It has led me to dig into the beliefs of the peoples of the Terran Union. Are you Shinto, as part of your traditionalist beliefs,” Eve asked in curiosity?

“I am, though the way of the Kami – spirits – is less restrictive than it had been in centuries past. We believe that the creation is alive with spirits that speak to us and show us our path.” Saburo looked down as he thought of his daughter’s suffering. “Not all of them seek our good.”

“Please tell me about Tori?” Eve offered tea to Takahashi.

“She was strong, wise, brave, and honorable. Whatever happened to her on Gustave left her fearful and full of evil thoughts. Her speech is desperate and incoherent. But for a few moments, when her mind clears, she cries and begs me to help her end her life. If she were Samurai in ancient Japan, I would believe she had been seized by an Oni, an evil Kami. I entreat my ancestors for help each morning. All the while I cry for my daughter. She came back from war broken in a way I do not understand.” A tear rolled down Saburo’s cheek.

“We of the Sword Worlds have faced many traumas and …Oni.” Eve waited for Takahashi to raise his head and meet her eyes. “Let me come with you and visit her. We will seek help for her together.”

Saburo wiped away the tear and nodded his agreement. “What else should we discuss before we visit Tori.”

“We need to solidify our access to the south polar area of Luna. Also, we need to acquire a shipyard and several supporting industries. Do you think that Admiral Wang is intentionally slowing our business approvals from the Terran Union government?” Eve was inwardly focused when she was considering the situation.

“It is possible. You have attracted the attention of several very powerful people. The more that people learn about you the more they want to know. That is a cycle we should use. It would help if you could let me know how you want your business to progress. That would allow me to hire the right consultants.”

“It sounds easy. However, I simply don’t know enough yet. I have many holes in my understanding of the Terran culture and people. Until I feel more comfortable with the reality, I find myself in, I would rather react to what is being offered,” Eve admitted to her lawyer.

“Alright, we have several weeks to play this out. I like that you are a patient person, Ambassador McAlister. You allow those of us who implement your will to take our time and do it correctly.” Saburo’s opinion of Eve continued to rise. “We will have clarity on which purchases and contracts, we should venture once we hear from the Terran Union Foreign Ministry concerning the status of you and the Sword Worlds.”

“Those things will wait until after we go and visit with Tori.” Eve noted that Saburo had finished his tea.

Sanitorium, Tranquility Station, Luna

4528 CE Day 335 22:17 PDL

“Mister Takahashi, your daughter should be awake in a few minutes, she had a rough night.” The charge nurse greeted Saburo as he entered the ward for violently insane veterans.

“Was Tori upset by something? She had been doing better in the last few weeks.” Saburo was concerned.

“She has been much more restless ever since her friend stopped in to see her.”The nurse flipped back through Tori’s records. “She has had several very violent episodes.”

“I thought that my daughter was to have no visitors, except Major Kalinin and myself.” Saburo was irked at the violation of his daughter’s peace.

“I cannot explain it. I see you have a guest with you. Ambassador McAlister… is that correct?” The nurse was not happy with the added disruption.

“Yes, it is,” Eve nodded and walked to the storage lockers where she deposited her belongings.

“Please have a seat while we get Tori ready for your visit.” The charge nurse indicated the low-cost replaceable seats lining the wall. Eve assumed that violent episodes by the committed veterans claimed the facilities furniture from time to time. Taking a seat, she leaned back and closed her eyes, letting her mind drift. A strong emotional tension, that was chaotic and raging, permeated her awareness. The psionic noise from the ward was loud and disruptive. It was truly a home for violent and broken people.

Letting the waves of raw thought wash over her, Eve sensed a tendril of thought like the one that had tried to steal her banking information. The powerful psionic personality behind that plundering mind was not the same one which had tried to steal from her at dinner. But it was quite similar in power, malice, and chaos. Whoever had that mind was here in this ward.

Eve gently probed the personality trying to learn more about it. The power was closer to what she felt from Nine than it was from any person she had yet met on Earth or Luna. Not even the Zhodani opponents that had faced her in the Psionic Arenas on Zhdant had as much scope or power of mind. But something in the quality of the thought was off. Almost like it was fluctuating in and out of existence, a fragment that was left over from being shattered or broken.

After almost a half hour of sensing the flickering insanity, Eve began to recognize it as a distinctly unknown personality. It was however mingling with flashes of human thought. The unknown thought was unlike any others which Eve had encountered. Typical sophonts were dutiful in their thoughts, given almost completely to a mission or purpose. Although they were not very imaginative, they were rational and stable. But the thoughts she was sensing – felt extraordinary in form, timbre, and cadence – however they were also intense with malice and hatred.

“She is ready for you Mister Takahashi.” The charge nurse announced. Eve followed Saburo to Tori’s padded cell.

“The gravity is kept low to weaken Tori so that the chance of her hurting herself or one of the attendants is lessened,” Saburo told Eve. He walked over to his daughter who was huddled in a corner. She smiled weakly as he approached. “I have brought a friend that would like to meet you.” Saburo gestured for Eve to come closer.

Eve knelt down next to Tori. Tori turned to look Eve directly in the eyes and started speaking to her in the Zhodani language, Zdetl. “You…are a creature! How are you a creature? Ahh… Leave me! You are like the unmatched, how is it possible?” Saburo looked at Tori with the concern of a grieving father.

“Tori has been speaking in unintelligible phrases, even snarling. She has been screaming, crying, and howling in the night. All I can do is to love her and let her know she is not alone. The doctors, psychiatrist and psionicists have all given up on her. The Terran Union military are obligated to provide for her care and safety. Beyond that they are doing nothing for her.” Takahashi was relieved to be able to share his burden with Eve.

“I have seen this before on the battlefields of the frontier. I may be able to help her, but it will be hard on both of us and it’s extremely dangerous.” Eve offered as she watched Tori closely and waited for Saburo to consider her offer.

“I would be deeply honored to have your help.” Saburo said after a moment, tears flowing from his reddened eyes.

“If I do this here, I will need absolute solitude.” Eve waited until she was sure Saburo considered what she had said. “Or if we can check her out of this facility, I can isolate her and work in private. Is there a place that is private enough? If we succeed, she will see improvement, if not I will pay for a private team to care for her.”

“I would think that we can find a place. Let’s see about the documents.”

Salvage Ship Gorean, South Pole, Luna

4528 CE Day 337 03:51 PDL

“So, let me see if I understand. We are parked here in the middle of nowhere for as long as you say, and I am to warn off any approaching ship. If we are approached what should I do,” Wilson asked?

“Claim sovereign immunity as an envoy’s transport. No one boards this ship, and no one interrupts us.” Eve was clearly serious about the solitude.

“I understand.” Gorean leaned back and called up his rhythm and blues playlist. He had time to listen to his music and rest.

Eve walked out of the pilot’s cabin and entered the converted salvage bay. Sealing the door, she walked over to the restrained body of Tori Takahashi. Tori was glaring at Eve. “Shall we start?” Eve released the clasps on Tori’s restraints. Standing back up Eve purposely turned her back on Tori and walked to the far side of the room. Tori cleared her shackles and sat up.

Speaking in Zdetl again Tori smiled as if unhinged, “Creature, what do you think you will achieve here?” Along with the soothing words came a smooth insidious empathic probe. The personality was playing out its opening gambit. It was touching Eve’s mind, trying to find an emotional distraction to confuse her focus. Eve – Hayatlas, dominate psion of Zhodane – knew that she should not expose all her abilities to Tori and the personality at the start. The tentacles of thought from the Oni spread across the surface of Eve’s mind. The light probing was failing to find a point of access. “I am weak, broken, and shattered, but I am more than a match for you,” the Oni blustered.

“Many before you have had those same thoughts, and yet they proved unfounded. Shall we skip the preliminaries?” Eve settled into a restful position on the deck, seemingly unconcerned by Tori’s freedom of movement.

Let’s escalate this and get it over,” Eve switched to telepathy. The personality flooded Eve’s mind with visions of horrors from thousands of years of hunting the creations animals – humans, aslani, vargrs and endless other sophonts. The visions contained the shattering of lives, the torture of innocents and the corruption of weak minds, unable to resist the visions from the Oni that was attacking her, Eve let them come.

But Hayatlas, Eve McAlister, was no simple prey – she had done this same thing to even the strongest psions in her duties of Commander of the Order of the Coming. The attacks were taking a toll on Eve, but she could sense the power of the Oni waning.

Shifting to an empathic psionic attack against Eve’s sense of touch the Oni made her mind believe that her skin was on fire. Eve agreed with the thought and amplified it, sharing all the pain with the Oni who was attacking her. Tori screamed as the intense engulfing pain of burning alive gripped her, she passed out. “You are a challenge. I will have you as my host.” Tori spoke aloud in her unconscious state, having no volition to her action. The fractured personality of the Oni wanted out of Tori.

Eve decided to probe the personality. Forcing into its centers of reason in the cohabitating psyche of Tori’s mind, Eve brutally examined the memories of the Oni. They were both remembering the memories of the Oni that it wanted kept secret, and yet it was unable to resist Eve’s power and skill. Eve focused on the memory of the transference of the Oni into Tori’s mind, sharing both Tori’s and the Oni’s experience.

Flashing back into a memory was something Eve had done hundreds of times before. It was usually a dull ghostly experience, but not this time. Vivid images, smells, tastes, feelings, and thoughts surged into Tori’s brain. Tori was trapped on the ground with the Aslani Strategos pinning her down. The Oni was much stronger then than it was now. It was tearing all of Tori’s secrets from her mind. Ripping through her as a predator rends the flesh of its prey, primal, brutal, alive with the prey dying. All happening at once.

And then most of the personality splintered in the mind of the Aslani Strategos and Tori. Destroyed by the 4-millimeter gauss rifle projectile shattering the Aslani Strategos’ head. What remained of the Oni, flooded into Tori’s mind like a castaway desperately grabbing ahold of a place of safety, seeking after salvation. Eve was about to press on when she sensed Tori convulsing and slipping into cardiac arrest.

“No, you don’t!” Eve said as she used her telekinesis to gently restart Tori’s heart. It was time to lock up this echo of a sentient, self-aware thought, masquerading as an Oni personality. Eve found the personality’s will and began to modify its reason to live. For several hours Eve worked on changing the motivations of the personality collocated in Tori’s mind. The simplest driving motive that Eve could count on to be followed was survival. Ever so slowly, Eve worked with exacting precision to change the motives of the personality echo – from an Oni to a Kami, the remnant of a self-aware expression of the will of a Singer. If she had not had Nine’s training, Eve would have likely failed at the psionic compulsion that she was implanting. Finally, she slumped to the floor and slept, heedless of the Kami still in Tori.

When Eve awoke a day later, she was staring into the face of Tori Takahashi. Tori’s eyes were gazing at her, clear and reasoning. “How is it that I can speak a language of a branch of Humaniti that I have never met, or as far as I know has never met any Terrans? Who are you?”

Tori’s curiosity was overpowering her sense of gratitude. Eve considered what to do next as Tori continued. “I saw it all. Everything you did to that monster inside of me. I don’t understand.” Eve probed her mind and found the personality cowering inside Tori’s mind just as she had intended. There was no way to explain all of this to Tori other than the truth.

“I am a Zhodani. My name is actually Hayatlas, Marquesa Commander of the Order of the Coming. I did command a branch of Zhodani intelligence dealing with prophecy – in particular, facts, legends, and myths of the Creation. My abilities come from a life of dedicated training. But that is not all of it. I was investigating information about the Creation in the Temple of Stars on a moon orbiting my home world. The temple had been there since the time of the Ancients. Inadvertently I activated the Ancient technology, something only the Creator or a Creature was supposed to be able to access. In the blink of an eye I found myself in a Temple of Stars not far from this spot. It seems that the galaxy has several of these in the area that the Creator had set his will to, Creation.”

“After I arrived, I was trained by a servant of the Creator, a Star Crystal. Nine is its name. It is much more powerful than the fragment of the sentient expression of will that is inside of you. It was Nine’s additional training that let me control the Oni attempting to possess your mind. What you faced in psionic combat on Gustave I believe was a self-aware thought created by one of the fallen or maybe a rival of the Ancients. A very powerful being who sent the self-aware will of its personality to do its bidding, independent of its presence.”

“I believe the fragment of the Oni, that had occupied the Aslani Strategos which is in your mind, has been hunting down the creatures of the creation for more than a hundred millennia, possibly longer. As the host it possesses grows weak, the Oni would simply take another sophont to meet its needs. You saw the tortures it had inflicted on its countless naïve victims while the Oni and I were psionically dueling. Those were only a part of its memories. It is here to learn about the creation, sow discord and in the end bring its knowledge to the Fallen before the Coming.”

Tori was still absorbing what she had been told as Eve rolled over and stood up.

“That should give you enough to ponder while I go get a shower and clean up.” Eve held out her hand to Tori, “You seem to be better.” Eve walked up to the pressure door and unlocked it, leaving it open as she headed to the salvage crew quarters. Tori felt a moment of panic as she approached the open door to follow Eve. It seemed that the physical freedom she was offered included a terrible unspoken risk. Focusing on the subdued Kami she thought, “Don’t mess with me.”

After a shower, food, and another day of sleep, Eve was beginning to recover. She had watched the dialog going on inside Tori’s mind as Tori set in on the subdued Kami to extract intelligence. Considering that Tori was learning an ancient truth from one of the participants, Eve was surprised that Tori was growing more stable and stronger mentally. Her strength was powered not by her rage but by her understanding of the scope of what had been revealed to her. Eve left Tori to master her subdued demon. The physical silence was refreshing. And she had time to think about her next steps.

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